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Protecting yourself in the sun

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04/10/2006

UK consumers cannot even escape the growing threat of identity theft while holidaying abroad, especially those visiting Turkey, France, Spain or the US. Pauline McCallion reports  
 
Spending two weeks in the sun is meant to be a time to escape the pressures and stresses of daily life, do a bit of sunbathing and see the local sights. However, more Brits abroad are finding that identity fraud is one particularly nasty stress that could still appear on an otherwise cloudless horizon.

ID theft is a growing worry for UK consumers and, as a result, many have begun to shred bank statements and household bills on a regular basis in order to protect themselves. But an online credit report service, Callcredit, has warned holidaymakers to be vigilant on holiday. It says ID fraud committed abroad on UK cards amounted to £82.8m last year.

Callcredit has compiled a list of the most likely destinations to get caught out by a fraudster, including Turkey, France, Spain, the US and Italy. Thailand, an increasingly popular destination for UK holidaymakers, was seventh on the list and the Netherlands came 10th.

Melanie Mitchley, director of Callcredit, says: “When on holiday, it is all too easy to adopt a relaxed frame of mind and become less vigilant about keeping belongings safe. It is precisely this lapsed approach that thieves home in on – they are professionals at targeting tourists and are only too aware that people are likely to have lots of personal information with them while on holiday.”

However, there are a number of steps to take to reduce your likelihood of being targeted while abroad which have been published by Callcredit. Taking fewer cards is a good first step as it makes it easier to keep track of your transactions and to notice if one goes missing. Giving out your personal details to a stranger is also a big no-no, according to Callcredit. This is something many consumers would never do at home but may fall victim to while on holiday, for example, when approached by a holiday rep offering a supposedly great deal on a day trip.

Keeping your pin details safe and locking your passport and other important documents in the hotel safe are further ways to stay safe while on holiday. Lastly, Callcredit advises holidaymakers to check their credit record before and after they go away in order to quickly spot any irregular financial activities.

Taking simple steps such as these should help to reduce the likelihood of getting targeted by an identity fraudster while on holidays, but if the worst happens and you do get caught out contact CIFAS (the UK’s fraud prevention service), the police and any company that you have credit with immediately.
 

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